Director: Denis Côté

Cast: Denis Côté


Filmmaker Denis Côté employs poetic imagery to explore man's relationship with beast in this meditative, thought-provoking film.  See more details below


Filmmaker Denis Côté employs poetic imagery to explore man's relationship with beast in this meditative, thought-provoking film.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Quebecois director Denis Côté's Bestiaire takes its title from "bestiary," a now-obsolete literary form popular in the Middle Ages that featured images or real or mythical animals accompanied by colorful descriptions -- that is, a sort of medieval picture book of fauna. In keeping with this theme, Côté shot all of the scenes in and around Quebec's Parc Safari menagerie. But to categorize Bestiaire as anything close to a traditional documentary on animals, zoos, or zoology would be an errant summation. On one level, the film constitutes Côté's free-form exploration of how we, as viewers, see and learn visually through the analytical process of reading a motion picture. Côté may lead us through the Parc Safari, but his approach is austere and demanding -- he dispenses with voiceover narration, relies on long, fixed takes of his animal subjects and landscapes, and, most trenchantly, often frames those subjects in such a way that we only get a piece of an animal's physical form at a time. The result is, paradoxically, both confining and freeing. It's restrictive in the sense that we become more acutely aware of how subservient we are to Côté's choices -- a heightened sense of the subjectivity of the medium itself. It's liberating because it forces us to scrutinize more closely, for spans of time protracted far beyond anything present in a conventional feature or documentary, whatever is present onscreen. For example: During the shots that merely depict a fraction of the animals' bodies, one finds oneself observing, say, yak horns or zebra hooves in a revelatory light. The scenic de-contextualization throws the images into striking bas-relief. And the landscape shots force one to break through mass-media-conditioned impatience, to surrender to the film's lenteur and actually look at whatever Côté is shooting within the broader contexts of space and time. There are echoes of Bela Tarr here, as well as a protégé of his, the great Filipino director Lav Diaz -- once one gets past one's own preconditioned responses, nuances of the onscreen landscape or subjects that initially slipped past conscious identification become readily apparent. As this occurs, we also become more aware of the intellectual/emotional bias of our own interpretations regarding the close-ups of animals. Inevitably, we feel a tendency to read human emotions into the faces of say, llamas, bulls, and yaks, but Côté seems to be calling our attention to this -- asking, "Is it fair or rational, to oversimplify nature in this way?" The same is true of two sequences that involve human subjects -- an extended look at a taxidermist physically sculpting a model duck has an incredibly grotesque quality -- likewise a brief scene with an amusement-park employee dressing up as a cartoon chipmunk. In both cases, there is an ironic undertone: You can feel nature trivialized, compartmentalized into a phenomenon more easily digested, and Côté is deliberately highlighting something patronizing, even offensive. Even though occasional glimpses of dawdling tourists imply a few fleeting parallels and similarities between animals and humans, we're struck even harder by how enigmatic and incomprehensible nature is, how vast and deep and unbreachable the chasm may be that lies between one kingdom and another. Perhaps that helps explain why the final close-ups of animal eyes and faces seem so much more opaque, impenetrable and beguiling than the ones that opened the film -- and why the appearances of animal enclosures at the Parc Safari eventually grow not simply poignant but heartbreaking. Côté is no stranger to challenging his audience, of course, and that is particularly true here. This is one of those rare films that takes viewers to someplace new, fresh, undreamt of. As such, those willing to invest the time, care and attention that it demands will find it exhilarating.

Read More

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Includes an exclusive video interview with Director Denis Côté

Cast & Crew

Read More

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Bestiaire
1. Art [5:06]
2. Snow [8:42]
3. Indoors [12:05]
4. Feeding [7:37]
5. Caged [7:23]
6. Stuffed [8:42]
7. Grazing [4:51]
8. Zoo [3:48]
9. Amusement [10:45]
10. Credits [2:48]


Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >